UMATILLA VIKINGS (4-1, 0-1 EASTERN OREGON LEAGUE) at RIVERSIDE PIRATES (2-3, 0-1 EOL), 7 p.m. - The rivalry matchup between the Vikings and the Pirates last season determined which team would end up in the conference cellar. This year, though, there is a lot more to play for.
According to Umatilla coach Kelly Allen, three wins in the conference should be enough to warrant a post season appearance. And this year, it looks like both teams have a shot at completing a vast turnaround and doing just that.
"I think our team really wants to get to the playoffs," Allen said. "I think our kids have the right attitude and they're hungry - they want to experience it. And Riverside is a good football team and their guys are going to be hungry to win."
The key for both teams will be mistakes and turnovers. Both boast a power running game, with Steve Williams and Nathan Creason as two of the top playmakers in the conference to this point for Umatilla. Minimizing mistakes will greatly help the Vikings who could not do so a week ago.
"We shot ourselves in the foot so many times we didn't have any toes left," Allen said.
He expects a better effort, saying that his team has improved this week and sees no lingering effects from last week's loss.
IRRIGON KNIGHTS (1-4, 1-2 BLUE MOUNTAIN CONFERENCE) at HEPPNER MUSTANGS (3-2, 3-0 BMC), 7 p.m. - After knocking off the No. 1 team in the state a week ago, the Heppner Mustangs are fully aware that they need to refocus their efforts for their game against Irrigon.
With the added distractions of homecoming week, coach Greg Grant has worked hard at getting his players to focus.
"We just work on focusing for the next game," he said. "We think there are things we can do better, and this week we've been working hard at improving those things."
More specifically, Grant would like to see his offense get better jumps off the ball, and defensively, he wants to see a more intense effort against Irrigon.
That could bode poorly for the Knights as Heppner has yet to surrender a point in BMC play. Grant is not writing off his opponent, though, with the Knights' size and running game.
"They have some good physical kids," Grant said. "They're the type of team that's improving and improving quickly. We have to be ready for that."
STANFIELD TIGERS (2-3, 1-2 BMC) at PILOT ROCK ROCKETS (4-1, 2-1 BMC), 7 p.m. - The Pilot Rock Rockets are just a week removed from being the top team in the state, and after losing to Heppner are ready to climb back to the top.
For Pilot Rock coach Troy Jerome, there are no lingering aftereffects of the loss and what he has seen from his players is a focused effort at improvement.
"There hasn't been any carry-over," Jerome said.
The Rockets now turn their attention to stopping the Tigers, who have struggled to this point in the season, but have the playmakers to make things interesting.
"We're looking for them to utilize their skill kids," Jerome said. "They have a good quarterback in Matt Ellis and we have to keep an eye on Casey Irving at all times."
Pilot Rock will also look to generate its running game against the Tigers. After getting shut out for the first time all season, Jerome wants to see his line open holes for Travis Copeland and company to break through a stacked Stanfield front. With the Tigers putting eight or nine guys in the box, the Rockets could have plenty of open space to run in if they can break free.
WESTON-MCEWEN TIGERSCOTS (0-5, 0-3 BMC) at ENTERPRISE OUTLAWS (1-4, 1-2 BMC), 7 p.m. - The road has not been easy for the Weston-McEwen TigerScots thus far, and many would say that to this point they have played below expectations. That all could change though, as they prepare to take on the Outlaws for a shot at their first win.
"We're not coming close to our capabilities as a team," Weston-McEwen coach Dale Peters said. "But we've had a good week of practice and I'm looking forward to (the game), and so are the players. They are not happy with where we are to this point."
The TigerScots should have an opportunity at righting the ship against Enterprise, as their unique offensive sets should force the Outlaws out of their routine 4-4 defense. The only thing that could hold the TigerScots back is the loss of starting center Andrew Greenwalt.
He has been replaced by starting tackle Ryan Webb, who does have experience at the position, being the long snapper and the snapper out of shotgun formations. According to Peters, he has a good enough grasp of the position to be comfortable with timing by game time.